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The biggest hill fort in South East Wales, and probably the best fort in South Wales, this one is a stunner.
Circlemaster said he couldn't believe how few posts there were of this place, and neither can I.
It's been on my list for a few years now, so, if I throw together a few separated but easy to get to sites I can have my two most wanted Welsh sites in one day, brilliant !
There is a large car park, purpose made for the site, I cant remember the last time I saw a car park for a hill fort, there cant be many, with an information board too.
There are many many good points about this ancient site, the first is, that there are two forts here, it's a two for the price of none, it's all free, as free as the air and the rain. The two forts, Y Gaer Fach and Y Gaer Fawr, are separated by a small gully and are no more than 180 meters apart, one could shout over to your mate in the other fort.
The walk up to the first and smaller of the two forts starts at a large modern standing stone, the Gwynfor Evans (Politician) memorial stone. Y Gaer Fawr is a hundred yards up the hill.
Oval in shape, we pass over two lines of old fort walls, they tend to fade out a bit as you move away from the south west corner, but in the north east corner a well defined entrance is found, it just happens to not only face gentler sloping ground but also faces the larger higher fort Y Gaer Fach. We proceed on up to the high.
The first thing we come to is the frankly massive, nay, titanic, front wall, from the outside it looks to be at least twelve feet high, on the inside half that. At the southern end of the wall is the main entrance but we don't see that until were on our way out. We enter the fort at the south west corner and head north east along the wall. Until it forks, the left wall goes down hill the right fork carries on in the same direction, we go that way.
Nearly half way along this higher wall inside the fort on the highest ground is Y Gaer Fawr's party piece, a giant cairn.
The giant cairn is 3m high 55m long and 20m wide, it's a monster cairn. Cairns this size usually have chambers in them, but then cairns like this, ie; a long cairn, aren't usually in this kind of position.
Coflein freely admits it's an anomaly, it could be neolithic, either way it's huge, and a perfect example of a later culture living along side monuments from a bygone age.
We cross from the giant cairn over to the east side of the fort, missing in the process a possible low standing stone and posterns, small entrances to the fort, a good picture of one is found on the coflein site ( http://map.coflein.gov.uk/index.php?action=do_images&cache_name=ZXh0ZW50dHlwZSxCT1hfbWlueCwyNjkwOTJfbWlueSwyMjQyNThfbWF4eSwyMjQzNDhfbWF4eCwyNjkxNThfc2VhcmNodHlwZSxhZHZhbmNlZF9vcmE=&numlink=100866#tabs-4 ) oh well, i'll have to back now wont I, perhaps on a sunnier day. From the east wall you can see annexes below, and if you look up to the hill to your east, Tricrug, then turn round and look at the giant cairn in profile, the two are a perfect match, it looks very much like the cairn builders were imitating the long bump on the hill, which has subsequently accrued some time in the bronze age it's own cairn.
The match is quite uncanny.
We then head south and to the front wall, which has a very good looking entrance in it, but coflein assure us it is not an original feature the entrance actual is buried under slippage amid the massive front wall somewhere. And then we walk away, well, Eric's been gone for some time now, some king of huff apparently, at my taking to many pictures. Me?
It's hard not to, there's so many features, I could stay here all afternoon, but we're a long way from home, and the car aint gonna drive itself.
I had a go at finding this one eight years ago and failed miserably, not having nearly a clue as to it's whereabouts I had to give up, maybe I'd never get to see it, it's a shame too, as its three meters high.
But, in the last eight years i have done much snooping about on the Portal, Coflein, Google earth,
etc and now I'm pretty sure where to look.
I parked on a grass verge near a gate into a field, the stone is several fields east from here, in a hedge nearer to the farm.
I had decided upon a no nonsense go see the stone strategy, walk there, walk back, in and out.
The first field had sheep and lambs in, we tried to skirt round the edge of the field but a couple of the lambs came over to us, bleating, cute, the idea of never eating one ever again did cross my mind, but only fleetingly, sure your cute, but you taste sooo yummy.
Leaving the sheep behind we climb over two gates and end up on a farm track, we turn right. Follow it up hill then turn left again in the far left corner is a gap in the hedge this is where the stone is hidden in an adjoining hedge.
But we cant get a good look at it from this side we need to be on the other side of the hedge, there's a gate fifty feet away, but it lets you into the field that is right next to the farm house. We could be easily seen from here, so I scurry up to the stone say "hi, i'm Chris, I'll be your TMA'er for the day, what do you mean i'm the first?"
I give the stone a light fondling, take some pictures and were off. Returning uneventfully back the same way we came.
As a mission it was a complete success, We saw and touched the stone, got photos and all without having to bother the lord of the land.
However, the stone is so very close to the farm that if I'd have just driven to the house and asked I could maybe have saved over a quarter of an hour, we wouldn't have been so on our guard, and maybe I'd have been able to cut back a few out of place hedge branches.
I did feel a bit guilty, but only fleetingly.
We first came here to Carreg Cennen castle at least eight years ago, but strangely I have no photos of the place, good excuse to come back then, plus were on our way to a simply splendid hill fort, so, no excuses.
Adults:- 4.00 quid, Children 3.50, Family 12.00
Open 364 Days of the year.
Summer Opening 9.30 - last admission 17.30
Winter Opening 9.30 - last admission 16.00
The whole site is closed and the car park is locked at 18.30 daily.
It's not a bit on the cheap side, and it's not exactly the kind of place you can sneak into ( though I have sneaked into castles before), but if you only see one castle in South Wales make it this one (or maybe Pembroke). Perched right on the edge of the very epitome of precipitous cliffs Carreg Cennen has a secret, in fact it has nine.
Nine caves, an ennead of tight twisting slippy caves.
But as far as I know only one is visible or accessible.
As you enter the castle, right in front of you is a stone doorway tucked away in a corner, go through this doorway and down some steps, beware they are slippery and steep, and whilst there is a wall separating you from a long drop to certain death, vertigo will pop it's head round the corner, ignore it and pass through another stone doorway. Don't know why I'm pointing out the stoniness of the doorway, it's a castle.
There is now a long walkway, punctuated with openings out into the world, it feels like a perambulatory in an old abbey or something. Imagine what it would be like if the castle wasnt there, I'm sure it would be a right bugger to get to. At the end of the corridor, there are modern steps that go down, they will take you into the cave. The original entrance is blocked up, and turned into a Dovecote, sans Doves.
Bones of two adults and a child, and a perforated horse tooth were found in the cave's stalagmite deposits. Three human teeth were found, the remains are dated to the Upper Palaeolithic, now that's ancient.
The caves entrance is quite large but it doesn't take long for it to get tighter and smaller. The walls of the cave are in places seemingly worn smooth, perhaps by the fumbling hands of stumbling pin depositors. For at the end of the cave is the sacred well, or at least it used to be, and it is here that people would deposit pins into the collecting waters, perhaps in hope of the invention of the nappy ? Who can fathom the mind of the superstitious.
Eric me and the dogs went about as far as we could before we had to get down on hands and knees, that is usually far enough for me , but one day i'd really like to go really far into a cave. They are a place of a very singular nature, no two are the same but they always illicit the same feelings with in me, the feeling of being somewhere very special, deep within our great mother, hidden from the fiery ball in the sky, does one really exist when one is safely ensconced with in the earth, presumably so, but I couldn't swear to it.
I love ancient places, I love castles and caves, this is a good one.
I couldn't see the stone from the road, the hedge is on top of an earthen bank, like what they get in Cornwall, but some nifty map reading took me to the gate mentioned elsewhere, and thar she blows.
She is as lovely a standing stone as you could hope to wish for, she never gets in trouble, always home on time, erm, I mean she's tall and shapely, and very colourfully attired, and like most women there is two sides to her, why do I mostly see them as female. They're not are they ? it must be me.
Very very sadly my 1:50,000 map does not show the other two stones down the road, B and C, so I did not know of their existence. Next time.
Also, I've heard it said that these stones are part of an avenue between two now long gone stone circles. Any information anyone.
This is such a megalith drenched area that the occasional drizzle and misty conditions did nothing to dampen my ardor for the place, big hills, rocky summits, no people, and more stones than you can shake a 1:50,000 map at. This is my kind of place no matter what the weather, some sun would be nice for sure, but right now i'm just happy to be here.
From the Rhos Fach stone pair, near the Waldo stone (modern) and the Cystic Fibrosis stone (I kid you not, modern) go west. It's probably best to park on the actual car park on the left hand corner, no more than a minute from the two unlikely named stones. Then walk further down the road and then turn right onto an uneven farm track, signed as "Access only Cwm Garw". Well we want access, access to the stones, the stone pair are off to the left of the track, unmissable.
What a fine pair of standing stones these are, the stones of the sons of Arthur, the bigger of the two is rectangular in section whilst the smaller one is thin on edge. Both stones are copiously covered in lichens and mosses, as would be expected from stones that don't roll, ever.
Ease of access, the size of the stones, and their amiable surroundings all make this a terrific site to sit and play in the mud for a while, or maybe pondering life's mysteries is more your cup of tea, either way you can do them both here.
Kammer said that this feature was sadly unsung and i'm inclined to agree, but whilst this is not a song, feel free to add some music of your own choice, nothing pretentious mind.
Carn Menyn chambered cairn has been at the top of my Welsh hit list for a while now, it isn't too dissimilar from many other cairns, though being able to see and squeeze under the capstone is in my opinion a big bonus for a cairn. But the thing that sets it apart from any other, the thing that really makes it a must see is..... The stone river.
The stone river is made of small to medium sized boulders, stretching in an unbroken line for over half a mile, it does look like a river, winding it's way down hill, only it's made of stone.
Following the river up hill will inevitably bring one to the cairn, the river seems to erupt from under the cairn, spring like.
Or perhaps the river is a dragon with the cairn as it's head.
But this is certainly a feature of a certain oneness, ive not heard of one before, how is it made ? what did the cairn raisers think of it ?
To find such a good cairn, in such lovely surroundings, with such a mad feature attached, how can this place remain unsung.
If I dont think about it too much then this site is probably #1 on my most wanted list.
Everything came together at the right time so Eric me and the dogs were leaving for the stones at 2am, it's a long way and I wanted to be on site early, hence our ridiculously early start.
Five hours later.
We parked by the telephone box on the road south east of the cairn. We should have walked up the road a bit and entered the wilds just after the house called Glanrhyd, but we didn't, we went up through the forestry place. It was hard going, especially when we left the track, trees had fallen down and now and then our way was blocked by ten foot high root balls, a solid wall of earth, root, rock and small bits of crashed UFO's.
On the lower slopes, below the outcrops, the ground can get very boggy off the path (on the path too for that matter), progress was all right, only it went on too long, as Mr Thurber say.
Eventually we let the dogs pull us up to the top, mush, and once more I stand a top a Preseli Carn. But which is it, there's quite a few clustered together and they've all got there own names.
Carn Gwr has two cairns by it, but today I only have eyes for chambered cairns, I could easily spend the whole sunlit part of the day exploring these hills, there is much to see.
But I must stick to the plan or I wont be able to see #2 on my must see list, just a couple of standing stones more and then were outta there.
We hop from rock to rock, I knew the cairn was next to a big rock stack, we'd gone through them
all and were down to our last one, there's a lot of stone around here it has to be said, it took some time to find it, but in the end it was right where I thought it would be. With my usual alacrity I took us up the long way.
It was a touch on the misty drizzly side when we got on site, but it didn't detract from the place at all, it lent an ethereal beauty to the place, we couldn't see down to the road, the only distant places we could see was the other hill tops.
It is mostly like any other cairn, it's round-ish, and is a stony hump in the landscape. But right in the middle of the stony mass is a whopper capstone nigh on three meters square, it isn't square.
Under the capstone can be seen the fallen orthostats of the collapsed chamber, coflein suggests a Neolithic or maybe early bronze age date.
But most freaky of all is the stone river, a long curving line of boulders and assorted rubble maybe a mile long, I thought it was near or maybe next to the chambered cairn , but it's much better than that the stone river erupts right out of the side of the cairn. What a place to put your cairn, genius, absolute genius, on Dartmoor they erect stone rows for the same purpose, what ever that is. But here the earth itself, time or glaciers does the work for you. Sublime.
Cant recommend the place enough, i'm extremely perplexed as to why only Kammer has posted on it.
A Coflein relieved blue spot yielded this standing stone.
This is said to be one of the seven standing stones referred to in the name Clym Saith Maen (see NPRN 304064). It is a 1.4m high monolith, apparently decapitated.
I tried really hard to see this stone from the road, I wasn't going to wander around the boggy gorse ridden marshes without being able to see my destination, I made four passes at it but it remained aloof.
A better map shows the stone by a fence on the border between farmland and rough national park.
The coflein entry says it is one of seven, as does the sites name, but I can only see six on the map and coflein, where could it have gone, or does it still lurk in some nearby hedgerow.
Showing 1-50 of 6,683 posts. Most recent first | Next 50
After visiting over a thousand ancient places and driving between fifteen to twenty thousand miles every year I can only conclude that I'm obsessed with these places, and finding this website seven years ago only compounded that obsession, at least I'm not alone anymore.
My favourite places are:
Ring of Brodgar
Balnauran of Clava
Nine stones close
Bryn Celli Ddu
The Druids circle (penmaenmawr)
Gwal y Filiast
La Roche au Fees
Talati De Dalt
and these are only the ones that immediatly spring to mind, so many stones and not enough lifetimes.